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"We find it very beneficial to be able to look in on the producers..."

Agency develops software to help managers and producers measure sales results.

From Rough notes, January 2007
By Dave WillisWhat gets measured gets done. That’s true for many things in life, especially sales. And many successful agencies have adopted that philosophy. 

Marquette, Michigan-based Hetrick & Associates is one of those agencies. For some time, Jessica Hokenson, business development coordinator, has been tracking

her agency’s sales results internally. But as she spoke with people from other agencies, she learned many of them struggled with the process. Sure, they had basic information from their agency management system. But those systems are geared more toward processing business and managing customer relationships. 

So with the blessing of her agency principals, Hokenson parlayed her sales management success into MySalesResults.com, a Web-based sales tracking and management tool. The program is offered by an agency affiliate, which is jointly owned by Hokenson; a partnership of agency principals Bill Hetrick, Chris VanAbel and Scott White; and the developer who built the product. 

Hetrick & Associates began using the online version for its own producers, then recruited other like-minded agencies—some fellow members of the Sitkins 100 agency group—to kick the product’s tires and take it for a test drive.  After a period of beta testing and significant feedback, the product went public in October 2006.Reporting made easy

 

The program features three sections. The first, MyReports, is where producers enter information on accounts and activity. Within MyReports are a half-dozen distinct reports covering everything from referrals to prospecting to closed sales.

The New Plan Report showcases accounts that haven’t been quoted but will come due in the next 90 to 120 days. The Accountability Report lists accounts that have been quoted and are pending. The X-Date Report lists accounts beyond a 90- or 120-day time frame.

The lynchpin of the section is the Sales Report. “When an account has been sold, it’s moved over to the Sales Report, which triggers premium and commission tracking for the producer,” Hokenson explains.

The section also features an Internal Referral Report, which tracks when producers refer accounts to another division within the agency, and an External Referral Report, which records leads that a producer receives from individuals within his or her circle of influence. “Tracking external referrals encourages producers to maintain key relation-ships and ask for introductions to new businesses,” Hokenson notes. “Referrals increase success.” 

Some producers enter information daily.  Others wait until the end of the week. “But in our agency, they all know it needs to be updated weekly because we’ll be reviewing it at our Monday morning sales meeting,” she says. 

Once the first entry is made in the MyReports section, it’s a fairly simple process to move the information through the system.

“It’s a matter of changing a field and moving the information over, so no duplicate entry is involved,” Hokenson says. “We knew if the program was going to fly it had to be easy enough for producers to use.”

Seeing results

The second section of the program, called My Results, tallies producer accomplishments—accounts quoted, policies sold, and closing ratios. Also included are gross commissions, internal and external referrals, and revenue per relationship. The section delivers full and immediate feedback and offers monthly, quarterly, year-to-date, and full-year snapshots. 

The third section provides aggregated departmental and agency-wide results. My Department Results and My Agency Results, the two elements of this section, let producers, managers, and principals gauge individual and group performance against personal, departmental, and agency goals. 

For Fallgatter Rhodes Insurance Services in Bakersfield, California, MySalesResults.com was an answer to prayer—or at least a lot of research. According to Rolly Rhodes, agency president, the agency has been trying to change from a service organization to a sales organization. But it struggled with the transition.

The agency’s office manager, Laraine Badilla, had been looking for a tool that would help the agency get a handle on its sales performance. But nothing seemed to fit. Then she saw a brief mention of MySalesResults.com in Rough Notes’ August 2006 cover article on Hetrick & Associates. She put down the magazine and picked up the phone. 

Rhodes says it was an easy decision. The agency signed on and put the product to use quickly with a relatively new producer. 

The producer, an insurance agency veteran who started selling in December 2005, entered all of her activity for the year into MySalesResults.com, as though she’d been using the product the entire time. Something jumped out of the results data. “She was doing everything quite well until the close,” Rhodes says.

Armed with this information, the agency enrolled the producer in a carrier’s agents school. And it made a difference. “In the last couple of weeks she’s closed some pretty nice accounts,” says Badilla, “based on what she learned at the school. And with every account she closes, she builds confidence to go on to the next one.”

Rhodes adds, “She’s excited about the help this tool provided. It shows where she’s effective and where she’s not.” 

Jennifer Little, whose agency was a beta user, says, “The key thing the product has done for us is it gave us the ability to finally track our closing ratios. That’s something we tried to do in the past, using spreadsheets and other in-house solutions. But that never really got us to where we wanted to be.” 

Little is business development coordinator at Beimdiek Insurance Agency, a Carthage, Missouri-based Sitkins 100 member. A key part of business development is the ability to track what’s working and who’s making it work. “For us, being able to determine what each producer’s closing ratio is has been huge,” she says.

 

Managing improvement

Data from MySalesResults.com caught producer and principal attention. “Being able to see the numbers in black and white really jump-started some people,” she says. 

The ability to get immediate feedback is a program strong point, Little adds. “For us, the primary benefit is producers being able to go in at any point and see exactly where their numbers are, with just a moment’s notice,” she says. “Nowthey don’t have to come ask me to run a report, then wait a day or two for the numbers. It’s at their fingertips.” 

The Beimdiek agency worried initially that agents would resist the tool. “We were a little concerned there’d be more pushback on making producers enter their own information,” she says. With just a little nudging, though, the producers have been diligent, she found. Having immediate results helps encourage consistent use.

According to Sitkins Group President Larry Linne, who helped Hokenson during deployment and refinement of the product, the tool works best when coupled with strong management support—something the product lends itself to quite nicely, he believes. 

“We teach Sitkins 100 members that change is most likely to happen if you have a three-legged stool: leadership, process, and a tool,” he says. “MySalesResults.com has addressed all three. They’ll consult with the end-user on the culture and leadership required to make the system work. They’ve built ‘processes’ into the implementation. And the tool does everything you’d need for measuring sales results.”

And it feeds into Linne’s personal version of the “what gets managed” saying. “I like to take the saying one step further,” he says.  What gets measured and managed gets done.” MySalesResults.com can make that happen, he believes.

Dave Willis is a freelance insurance writer and regular Rough Notes contributor.